Forest & Bird claim and Canterbury Water Management Strategy
Forest & Bird claim and the Canterbury Water Management Strategy
21 Aug 2019
In May, Forest & Bird challenged the collaborative Canterbury Water Management Strategy process in the context of the Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee’s ongoing discussions on the minimum flow regime.
Specifically, Forest & Bird’s claim challenged exemptions issued by the Auditor-General for Zone Committee members.
Environment Canterbury Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said these exemptions allowed members who have financial interests to discuss matters related to the development of implementation programmes designed to achieve the targets and goals set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.
“Having the exemptions in place enabled all views to be heard and considered across the spectrum of interests,” he said.
The Auditor-General has decided to withdraw the exemptions and as a result, Forest & Bird has discontinued the proceedings.
“Environment Canterbury was prepared to defend the proceedings, but in light of the Auditor-General’s decision to withdraw the exemptions, there is no merit in continuing,” Bill Bayfield said.
The withdrawal of the exemptions has no effect on the previous work of the Zone Committees, including recommendations on Zone Implementation Programmes and Addenda. There is also no impact for committee members in relation to their participation in discussions to date.
The purpose and function of the zone committees is to facilitate community involvement. Members are therefore appointed for their ability to collaborate and to allow for a range of views.
Bill Bayfield said collaboration had been beneficial in a number of ways. “It has helped communities accept that there are problems and that something needs to be done; to integrate within the planning process science, planning theory, differing viewpoints, stories and field-trips, leading to positive outcomes, and to ensure rūnanga are in no doubt that their views have been included in committees’ recommendations,” he said.
Zone Committees are joint committees of the local territorial council and Environment Canterbury. The committees make recommendations to the regional council. These recommendations are considered when developing plan rules, which then go into the formal public consultation process under the Resource Management Act.
Working together to manage interests
Environment Canterbury will now work closely with the Zone Committees to make sure the interests of members are appropriately managed.
The Canterbury Water Management Strategy Fit for Future project will continue. The role of Zone Committees is an important part of this work being undertaken by the Mayoral Forum that first developed the Strategy.
Bill Bayfield said Environment Canterbury would continue to support Zone Committees and their members “because they are at the heart of effective community participation in decisions affecting water in their areas”.
“Zone Committee members are to be applauded for their exemplary efforts and continuing commitment to their zones,” he said.